Toronto on the surface pretty much feels like the U.S., except there are slightly different accents, sentences punctuated with “eh” and signs translated in French. Someone lame is a dude bro, and fries with gravy are totally natural.
I knew little about Toronto and preferred to keep it that way.
“Toronto?” A Canadian friend said after I asked him what there was to do there. “Go to Montreal. Or Vancouver.”
“CN Tower,” said my friend in Virginia. “The glass floor is ridiculous.”
Other than that, my inquiries went unanswered, and I was beginning to think that despite being so close to American (Well, U.S. American) soil, Toronto was uncharted territory.
When it comes to travel, there are universal responses at the mention of certain places. Somewhere European, Asian or exotic-sounding usually elicit unified expressions of “Awesome!” and “Wow!” My mention of Toronto, on the other hand, was met with confusion: “Why?”
While it’s perfectly acceptable to venture to certain places without purpose (No one ever asks “Why Italy?” for instance), places like Toronto require explanations. I’d like to say I had a real desire to learn more about our North American neighbor and its biggest city, but my reasons weren’t quite so ambitious. A friend needed to go there for a conference, and accommodations were provided. I hadn’t been on a plane in about a year, much less out of the country, so I figured it was time.
I rarely thought about Toronto before the trip and even after booking the flight I’d all but forgotten about it. The night before I left, it suddenly dawned on me I had no idea where we were staying or how close it was to the airport. A few quick Facebook messages solved that, and soon I was on my way to see Canada for the first time.
I often draw energy from places — New York has a distinct energy that at times can be overwhelming — but in Toronto I felt nothing. I was OK with that. Being a writer means having to possess some sort of imagination and the ability to find something interesting in anything. I briefly consulted some sites and decided the best way to take in Toronto was to wander somewhat aimlessly.
I was quickly reminded not everyone traveled this way.
For 31 years the CN Tower was the tallest free-standing structure in the world.
In 2007, Dubai unveiled the Burj Khalifa.